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    Pennsylvania’s Fort Indiantown Gap No. 1 for training in 2015

    Fourth annual March for the Fallen takes place at Fort Indiantown Gap

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Keeler | The March for the Fallen is an annual event in memory of fallen service members. This...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Angela King-Sweigart 

    Fort Indiantown Gap

    FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa.- Fort Indiantown Gap finished first out of 48 National Guard training centers located throughout the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico with the most training man-days for fiscal year 2015.

    The installation trained more than 120,000 service members, federal, state, local and international personnel and had more than 700,000 man-days. A man-day is equal to one person training for one day. To illustrate, one person training on the installation for 14 days would be equal to 14 man-days whereas two people training on the installation for 14 days would be equal to 28 man-days.

    Col. Robert Hepner, commander of the installation, is proud of the results.

    “We are the busiest National Guard training center in the country, and the staff makes the result possible,” Hepner said. “We manage to continue to deliver high-quality training while being good environmental stewards and active members of the community.”

    Looking around the staff sections at the installation, each has accomplishments that contributed in their way to the No. 1 ranking. The installation is run by members of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Training Center. The training center is comprised of four major sections: Plans, Operations, Training and Security; Department of Public Works; Directorate of Personnel and Community Activities; and Logistics; additionally other staff sections from the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs support the installation.

    Lt. Col. James Fluck, from Plans, Operations, Training and Security-Range Operations, highlighted several notable accomplishments this year.

    “We successfully fired an M1A1 tank live fire accuracy and screening test, the first tank live fire at the installation in 17 years. This event is part crew training and part maintenance and may be conducted in the future,” he said.

    Other notable achievements include: The computer analyses and construction of terrain modifications to various ranges to accept the Army’s new enhanced performance round, the award of a construction contract for a new obstacle course, at a location better suited for that type of event and the addition of a capability to a range that will assist off-duty personnel with their private firearms practice.

    “The personnel at range operations, simulations and range maintenance have worked extremely hard this past year to make us the most utilized and busiest National Guard base in the nation,” said Fluck. “This was accomplished with an excellent safety record and an intense coordination with both aviation and fixed wing training from all branches.”

    The Department of Public Works has a massive job managing the land and more than 700 buildings located on the installation. The team is comprised of both state and federal employees. This year the Bureau of Reservation Maintenance answered more than 19,000 work orders. The team also managed more than 60 active building projects, both contractor and troop constructed. Notable projects included the ground-breaking of the new Eastern Army Aviation Training Site Aircraft Maintenance and Instructional Facility and the renovation of 45 World War II wood barracks, according to Lt. Col. Daneen Hutton, chief of the public works division.

    “Providing better facilities for service members training and working here is hugely rewarding,” she said. “My team is a committed and hard-working group.”

    The logistics section, which manages the post warehouse, ammunition supply point, billeting and supply and services, also had a busy year. Managing the lodging for the more than 6,000 beds on the installation made for a busy group as the record training year meant record number of personnel staying on-post.

    “We were busy but continued to maintain our high-level of customer service,” said 1st Sgt. Randy Lehman, billeting manager.

    The Directorate of Personnel and Community Outreach established an outreach program with local communities. Lt. Col. Dale Waltman, the representative for the installation, attends many of the municipal meetings for the communities surrounding the installation: East Hanover (Lebanon County), East Hanover (Dauphin County), Union Township, and the Lebanon County Commissioners meetings are among those regularly attended.

    “I enjoy interacting with the community and telling the story of all the great things we have happening at the installation,” explained Waltman. “As a lifelong resident of Lebanon County, I think it is a great place to both live and work.”

    Also under this section is the Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff. The installation broke ground this year on a gym annex to better serve those on the installation, as well as completed construction of a new parade field, running path and two competitive recreation fields. Also a new partnership began with Carlisle Barracks to better serve service members. Arrowheads, the post restaurant which is open to the public, had a menu revamp. Finally, the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation staff partnered with the installation to host several successful community events including: Holiday tree lighting, hosting the Soldier Show and the March for the Fallen. These events were open to the public and well attended.

    Other staff-sections while not organic to the installation training site, contribute much to its success.

    The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs environmental staff is a key contributor. This year, the environmental staff took top honors in the nation for the work done on the regal fritillary butterfly. The team also has wildlife biologists and foresters who work together to ensure a safe habitat for the flora and fauna who live on the installation, and hosts tours of both the butterfly and bird habitat. This staff manages the hunting program and the wood yard on the installation; both services that are open to the public and very popular. Additionally Pat Rickard and Daryl Valley of the environmental program office along with the deputy base commander David Weisnicht, spearheaded a revitalization of the Army Compatible Use Buffer program at the installation. This program works with community members to address the growing concern of development and encroachment around the perimeter of the installation.

    Our emergency services at Fort Indiantown Gap continued to partner with local municipalities to ensure the safety of those both on and off the installation. This year the Fort Indiantown Gap Fire Department answered more than 350 calls for service many of which assist local municipalities where mutual aid agreements exist. The fire department achieved Pennsylvania Voluntary Fire Service 100 percent certification levels from the Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner. The purpose of this program is to identify and recognize emergency service personnel whose accomplishments in training and education meets or exceeds nationally recognized standards.

    “I am extremely proud of the members of the Fort Indiantown Gap Fire and Emergency Services for achieving this outstanding accomplishment. It demonstrates the high level of professionalism of our personnel,” said Chief Donald Wilson.

    The police force experienced more than 4,000 incidents responding to calls, assisting individuals and ensuring the safety of others. The force experienced another year of growth adding three new police officer positions with full arrest powers. Additionally, they are in the process of replacing 2009 Chevrolet Impalas for new Dodge Special Service four wheel drive trucks to better patrol the more than 120 miles of unimproved roads on the installation.

    The Public Affairs Office supports the installation with an active Facebook page, community information line, FLICKR page, and DVIDS news service. This year the office redesigned the installation’s website. In February 2015 the office was notified that they had won first place in the National Guard for the best community relations special event for the Fort Indiantown Gap Open House 2014.

    Other noteworthy events happened throughout the fiscal year. The installation headquarters had the honor of hosting a variety of distinguished visitors throughout the last year. State and local legislators visited along with Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, retired Gen. Carter Ham, commissioner with the National Commission on the Future of the Army, Lt. Gen. Joe Anderson, Army G3/5/7 operations and plans, Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, director of the Army National Guard, and Lt. Gen. Rex McMillian, commander of the Marine Forces Reserve. In March, Fort Indiantown Gap recognized and remembered Sgt. Charles Marquette on the 150th anniversary of his Medal of Honor actions. The museum dedicated the chapel that had been renovated and is now open to the public.

    “It takes a team to make this installation great,” said Hepner. “There are so many great Americans coming to work every day to make this mission happen. I commend everyone on the success of last fiscal year and look forward to continued success this fiscal year.”



    Date Taken: 12.23.2015
    Date Posted: 12.23.2015 08:57
    Story ID: 185233

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